85 Apps You Can’t Live Without

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Do you worry that your kiddos are more familiar with Angry Birds than with their multiplication times tables? Chances are you’re just like us — guilty of throwing your kids in front of the iPod or iPad just so you can secure those precious few minutes to finish up that nagging work project or make a couple of phone calls. While Angry Birds will always be one of our favorite apps, there are plenty of apps out there (educational ones, too) that will diminish your feelings of guilt for pawning your kids off on these sweet devices. So in the spirit of spreading the app love, here is our list of our favorite 85 apps for kids and parents.

1.  Cut the Rope

Age rating: 4+ | Price: $1.99
Oh, what a cute story this game presents!  An adorable green monster arrives by mail and it’s up to your kids to cut a series of ropes (negotiating the laws of physics and gravity) to feed it candy. The graphics are perfect, the music and sound effects are appealing, and the game play is very challenging.  What more could you ask for?

2.  Angry Birds
Age rating: 4+ | Price: $0.99
Another silly story line that we just can’t help loving.  Evil green pigs have stolen these birds’ eggs and are now hiding out in their castles.  It’s up to your kids to wreak revenge on the pigs using (of course!) little red, black, blue, and yellow birds and a giant sling shot.  Huh? Different birds have different powers.  Some are bombs.  Some are speed birds.  Some multiply mid-flight.  We’ve lost hours and hours of our lives to this game at our house.  Addictive doesn’t even begin to cover it.

3.  Fruit Ninja
Age rating: 4+ | Price: $0.99
Using their finger as a blade, kids swipe various pieces of fruit that fly up in the air, chopping them in half. In classic mode, they also have to avoid the bombs.  This game is fun, easy, and very hard to put down.  We like the fact that you get all the action with none of the violence.  If your kids are the stress-y type, have them play in Zen mode.

4. Soosiz HD
Age rating: 4+ | Price: $1.99
This awkwardly named app is a really, really fun platform game for the iPad with eye-popping cartoon graphics. What’s a platform game? A game in which you jump from platform to platform and over obstacles. In this one, your kids are a cute citrus-y character whose planet has been attacked by spiky bad guys. Bummer. The object of the game is to save the world. Naturally, this is easier said than done.

5. Doodle Jump
Age rating: 5+ | Price: $0.99
The most downloaded iPhone app of all time is even better on the iPad—get ready to jump and jump and jump again in this insanely addictive game. Tilt the iPad left and right to jump from platform to platform. You can also get a boost from jetpacks, propeller beanies, and springs, but watch out for monsters!

6. Chuzzle
Age rating: 4+ | Price: $2.99
A fun, addictive and appropriate for all ages. Kids slide google-eyed chuzzles across the iPhone screen trying to group 3 like-colored chuzzles together. When they do, the chuzzles explode with a giggle, sending fur and eyeballs flying. We’ve played this game on the PC, the iPhone, and the iPad and the iPad is head and shoulders above the rest. Admittedly, we’ve lost hours of our lives to it.

7. Reading Raven
Age rating: 4+ | Price: $3.99
This highly interactive app is the best way to teach your kiddos the fundamentals of reading. With 11 different types of apps that tackle everything from spelling to sentence structure, and a lesson plan that adapts to your kid’s abilities, they’ll be reading in no time. While most education apps are lacking in the the “fun” category, this isn’t one of them.

8.  Bookworm
Age rating: 4+ | Price: $2.99
An intuitive, educational word search game for new readers, rabid wordsmiths, and everyone in between. Younger kids may need a little help, but they’ll soon be hooked too. Link letters left, right, up, and down on your iPhone screen to build words and earn points with this fun app.  Make too many short words and you get burning tiles, which can literally blow up in your face.

9. Scrabble for iPad
Age rating: 5+ | Price: $9.99
There is no question that Scrabble is one of the best iPad apps—it’s leagues better than the regular iPhone Scrabble app. The older app is kind of hazy on the iPad. We tried them both and Scrabble for iPad feels so much more dynamic. It’s got a high price, but for frequent players, bringing the iPad to a friend’s house will quickly replace bringing the box. There’s even a free companion app for the iPhone called Tile Rack that lets you use your phone as a tile rack for group play—awesome!

10. Weet Woo
Age rating: 2+ | Price: $3.99
This is one of our all time favorite iPad apps. It is a one-stop parent-curated video browsing gadget for kids. Channels include Animals, Fun Shows, Learn, Music, People, and Places and developers have listed hundreds of hours of kid-friendly programming with everything from funny kitten videos to a Discovery Education short biography of Ludwig van Beethoven.

11.  IceCube Adventures
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
This new platform game comes from Little White Elephant Gamesoftware.  It features a little icecube as he journeys through the dark forests and mysterious caves.  It’s a simple touch platformer, so there’s no need to tilt and turn the screen. Different difficulty levels let you or your little one choose the level of challenge, and multitasking support makes it easy to come back to the game on your time.

12. Dr. Suess’s ABC
Age rating: 4+ | Price $1.99
Learn the alphabet with Dr. Seuss. It’s hard to pick which Dr. Seuss book to buy first, so why not just start them early with this one. Then you can add “The Cat in the Hat” next. We like how you can click over an object on the page and the word will appear over it, along with the narrator telling you what it is. Great for promoting early reading skills.

13. Fish School HD
Age rating: 4+ | Price $1.99
This new educational app is disguised as a fish tank of fun. Brought to you by the much loved developer Duck Duck Moose, colorful fish turn into letters, numbers and shapes. Best for toddlers and preschoolers starting to learn the alphabet. The screen for “play time” is a recess for your little stident amid all the learning. We started with the screen that sings her the alphabet with the fish arranging themselves into the letters.

14. ClickySticky
Age rating: 4+ | Price $1.99
It’s a sticker book on your iPad with four different scenes to choose from. Let your kiddos adventure to outer space, take their imaginations to an African safari, deep beneath the sea or play with jets and and helicopters.  One of our favorite features of this app is the fact that the objects make noise from trumpeting elephants to silly aliens. Whee!

15.  Interactive Alphabet
Age rating: 4+ | Price $2.99
If you’ve got a kid who’s just ready to start cracking the alphabet code, this is the app to download. Why wasn’t learning letters this fun when we were kids? Each letter is accompanied by mellow, Hawaiian-sounding background music, a soothing voice, and just the right amount of animation.  It’ll make you wish there were more than 26 letters in the alphabet.

16. Build a Word
Age rating: 4+ | Price $0.99
Don’t let the name of the app lead you to believe that this is a homework assignment. Sure, it’s highly educational, but it’s colorful and fun too. Little kids’ voices guide you through the creation of a word. Kids can find the letters for animals like Frog and Duck, then they push the letters together to turn the word into an animated animal. Finally, shake the iPad to move on to the next word.

17. Dora The Explorer Coloring Adventures
Age rating: 4+ | Price $3.99
Take a break from “Dora the Explorer” on TV and sit down and color with the whole gang including Boots, Backpack and Swiper. Learn Spanish while you’re choosing scenes, adding characters to your setting and then touching colors to sections on the iPad to fill it in as you would on a coloring book. If you’ve got a Dora fanatic on your hands, you won’t want to miss out on this accessory either.

18. Firstwords: Deluxe
Age rating: 4+ | Price $4.99
If your kiddo liked FirstWords: Animals, they’ll get a lot more out of FirstWords: Deluxe too. More animals, vehicles, colors, shapes and familiar words to spell. Bright graphics, cute sounds will impress you and little one when matching the letters to the word. A great teaching tool that they will choose on their own because its fun.

19. Miss Spider’s Tea Party for iPad
Age rating: 4+ | Price: Free
From the moment you open up this app, you’ll see why moms love it. Especially if your tea fanatic is having a tough time making the jump from game and puzzle apps to storybooks. The book can be “watched” as a mini-movie, it can be read to you, has a coloring book feature, matching game and more.

20. 123 Talking coloring Book for iPad
Age rating: 4+ | Price $0.99
Take a break from all the word games and get in touch with your artist side. Color, color, color! There are pages upon pages of animals, shapes, scenes and world maps. As a bonus, you can hear adult voice overs in English, Spanish, French and German. Does your little language learner have the attention span to color for long lengths of time? Why not turn on some familiar kids’ music like “Wheels on the Bus” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

21. Super Why for iPad
Age rating: 4+ | Price: $2.99
Fans of the hit PBS Kids TV show will love this app. Kids play by finding missing words and rhyming words and learn by spelling words and tracing letters.

22. Pocket Dinosaurs to the Moon
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
After being stuck on Earth for millions of years, it’s time these over sized lizards get a vacation…to the moon? Pocket Dinosaurs to the Moon is every kids favorite game, featuring 15 different dinosaurs, 2 backgrounds and different boosts. It’s you and your kiddo’s job to help the dinosaurs escape earth while avoiding the dangerous meteorites that the evil aliens launch at you.

23. Draw Free for iPad
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Draw Free has received mixed reviews from users, and is seemingly targeted for a younger audience simply looking to, well, draw on the iPad. Users can select the color they’d like to draw with from a bank of colored pencils and adjust line width to meet their artistic needs. For an added level of convenience, creations can be saved and shared via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. Imagine how neat it would be to share “drawings” with grandparents living in another area! When the blank background gets boring, kids can import their own pictures to jazz up.

24. Jigsaw Puzzle HD
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Although there are currently only two puzzles included with the free Jigsaw Puzzle app, the developer promises additional puzzles and the ability to use your own photos in the near future. Holding true to its name, Jigsaw Puzzle HD offers users a chance to put together a puzzle, piece by piece. Users are given a sneak peek at the completed image, and are then put to work dragging the pieces to assemble the puzzle. The current puzzles consist of a deer in the woods and an underwater scene, both of which are kid appropriate for those in the 1st grade and up age sector.

25. Animal Memory Match
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Matching games are a great way to give the short term memory a quick workout. This app adds a level of cute to everyday matching games, by using animal graphics for each card. By touching a card, the animal image is revealed. Users must then recall where the like animals are throughout the set and touch them to create a match. Adjustable settings make this app appropriate for a variety of age levels. Users can select the number of cards in each matching set, as well as the number of players. Challenge everyone in the house to decide who’s got the best memory!

26. Airport Mania: First Flight
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $3.99
We are obsessed with an iPod Touch app that requires the player to move planes in and out of an airport in an orderly fashion. I don’t know why, but it’s simple entertainment with just a touch of thinking required. We were thrilled when we found this highly rated version of an air traffic control game made just for kids. Older ones will be able to direct planes onto the runway, fill them with fuel or passengers and get them back in the skies by dragging planes to and from their destination on the ground. Different “airports” provide new backgrounds for play and the planning required to be successful at Airport Mania requires kids to flex their critical thinking muscles.

27. Flower Garden Free
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Teaching kids about how things grow is a fundamental part of elementary education. The Flower Garden app puts a virtual twist on growing your own flowers by creating an ideal garden environment right on the screen of your iPad. Users can purchase pots and seeds from a nursery section of the app, before planting and nurturing the seeds until beautiful flowers bloom. Once flowers have matured, users can assemble virtual bouquets from their crops and send them to friends. Whether you have your own garden plot at home, or your kids simply love playing in the dirt, this app is a great way to “plant” seeds and watch them grow while learning about different varieties of flowers.

28. Fantastic 4 in a Row
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Just like the old game board classic, Fantastic 4 in a Row challenges users to connect four similar colored tokens in an upright grid. Users have the option to play against a friend, or the computer, and adjust the level of difficulty to keep the game consistently challenging.

29.  ABC Alphabet Phonics
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Targeted to those in the preschool age range, ABC Alphabet Phonics is designed to help kids have fun and stay engaged while learning letter sounds, shapes and associations.  Each letter is available in flash card format in both upper and lower case. As they work their way through the alphabet, the app clearly states the sound that the letter makes, as well as associating the letter with a word. A is for apple, b is for bird, c is for cat and so on. This game would be a great way to get younger users using the iPad in an appropriate manner for learning mixed with a little fun!

30. Lasers Free
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Lasers is an app that combines game play with critical thinking to solve a series of puzzles. Users must place laser beams in a manner that allows them to “activate” all of the diamonds on the screen. Certain lasers cannot be moved, while others can be bent or re-directed. Players must think through their options to advance from level to level.

31. Peekaboo Forest
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $1.99
This is the first interactive storybook we’ve come across that reminds me of the books we loved as a young-ling. Simple, yet well-executed artwork leads participants on an interactive narrative to explore different creatures within a forest landscape. Throughout the story, your kiddos keep an eye out for movement on the screen and simply touch the object to learn about whatever animal is hiding in the forest. Peek-a-boo Forest is an ideal choice for toddlers who are ready to move beyond recognition of the typical barnyard inhabitants.

32. Park Math
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $1.99
The developers that have released popular apps like “Wheels on the Bus,” are back again with a new math app for those from pre-school through first grade. Adorable animals at the park help students learn to count, as well as practicing basic addition and subtraction equations. The best part is that Park Math comes with levels that focus the game to an appropriate grade level for your learner. And the graphics are just plain cute.

33. Awesome Xylophone
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $1.99
Although it sounds simple, what kid doesn’t love to make noise? The Awesome Xylophone app quickly turns your iPad into a xylophone adorned with bright colors and musical notes. Whether you have a little one who just loves to tap the screen and wait for sound, or an older one that is learning the importance of musical notes, this is a fun iPad app everyone will love.

34. SwipeTapTap
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $0.99
SwipeTapTap is an appropriate game choice for anyone in the family from kids to Grandma. Much like the Simon memory game, players must use their reflexes and mind to follow a series of floating balls with directional instructions. The goal is to swipe when you should, tap when you should and see how long you can go before your pattern goes awry. Different levels allow players to test their memory, speed and endurance.

35. Mom Maps 
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $2.99
Not sure what to do with your little ones today? Whether it’s a sunny day or a wintry mess outside, Mom Maps can find kid-friendly spots in cities such as San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Portland, and more (new cities are added daily). There’s a wide array of parks, playgrounds, museums and indoor play areas to choose from, and the best part is that they’ve all been reviewed by parents. You’ll never hear “I’m bored” again!

36. Kids Eat For
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $2.99
When the family is ready to head out to eat, check in with Kids Eat For, which will help you find a local eatery where kids can eat for free or at a discount. The app can pinpoint your current location to give you the closest locales (perfect for family road trips), as well as reviews of each establishment.

37. Lose It!
Age Rating: Mom | Price: Free
Looking to shed some baby weight? Lose It! makes it easier by helping you set goals and maintain them. After setting up your daily calorie budget, you can log in your meals, store recipes, track nutrients and record your daily workouts. And when you hit your goals, it allows you to share your progress on your Facebook and Twitter pages (hey, everyone deserves to brag a little). The average Lose It! user has lost more than 12 pounds and more than 85 percent of its active users have lost weight.

38. Grocery iQ
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Cut your time at the supermarket in half — and save money — with Grocery iQ. Not only can you create shopping lists and check off items as you move through the store, you can scan the bar code of an item in your cupboard and have it automatically added to the list. And don’t forget to use the app to search for coupons and print them before leaving the house.

39. Big Fork Little Fork
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: Free
Once your shopping is done, turn to Big Fork Little Fork for recipes, video guides and games that will help your family have fun together in the kitchen. Designed to help kids learn healthy eating habits, the app includes menu plans for both picky and adventurous eaters, games to help kids understand the food pyramid and how-to videos to help them learn basic cooking skills. After all, mom can always use some help in the kitchen.

40. Tiny Wings
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $0.99
If the Angry Birds are a little too angry for you, Tiny Wings is the answer.  The very basic story follows a bird that dreams of flying but whose tiny wings keep it from doing so.  It teaches the little ones physics and space relation from the simplistic game play of using hills to slide down and launch off of, gathering momentum to keep the bird in flight.  Don’t spend too much time sliding down the hills because night isn’t far from ending the game.

41. Monster At the End Of This Book
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $3.99
Got a Sesame Street fanatic in your midst?  Then this is the perfect app for you and your little one.  Share an experience and be completely immersed in the world and story of Grover in his attempt to keep the reader away from the monster at the end of this book.  Touch-point animation brings this throwback story from your childhood to a new and interactive level for your mini bookworm.

42. iChalky
Age Rating: 4+ | Price: $0.99
If your little one is in some serious need of distraction, look no further. The star of this game is Chalky, a stick figure whose greatest challenge in life is standing up. Hours upon hours will fly by as your little one explores the physics of this highly distracting app. Chalky is comprised of 8 points connected by lines, and is entirely reactive to the positioning of your device and by touch. If that wasn’t enough, Chalky starts to dance if the microphone detects any music in the background, so turn up the volume and let the good time roll!


Photo courtesy of KQED